bobthemole: (Default)
[personal profile] bobthemole
I tend to dislike amnesia-fic, especially if they are about reuniting a memory-less person with the other member of their OTP.

Characters are the products of their histories and if you take away the memories of those histories, how are they the same people? Unless the fic is an exploration of how much personality remains intact if you take away memory, but fics (outside the Dollhouse-verse) seldom explore that.

There's also the dynamic when one person in a pairing is an amnesiac and the other knows everything about them. If they two are teaming up to reconstruct the amnesiac's life, I think that's an interesting story because the memory loss is the primary "antagonist" and everyone's agreed on that.

But what I don't get is stories where A thinks B is dead and months later discovers a memory-less (and newly human) B working in a bar somewhere. The story then becomes about A convincing B that they belong together, although B would rather keep hir current simple bartending life and not be pursued by this creepy stranger, thank you. Inevitably, A devolves into a stalker who can't stay away from this stranger who bears a resemblance to hir lost (unrequited) love. And B is unusually content with hir memory-less life and has no curiosity about hir past. A eventually wears down B and they establish a new relationship. Sometimes B regains hir memories, precipitating another crisis, but conflicts are resolved and they embark on a happy paired life of whatever shenanigans (vampire slaying? demon hunting?) they were up to before they were separated.

I'm not entirely sure what's going on at a meta level, but it seems that the reestablishment of the pairing is prioritized over the will and happiness of the individual characters. And it's like amnesia is a shortcut for getting characters together without dealing with their mutual baggage - which I think is completely pointless and undermines everything that makes the pair interesting in the first place. What surprises me is the popularity of this trope - I'm sure I've read half a dozen spuffy fics with this plot, and now I'm finding them in Supernatural too.

There's probably a good reason Amnesia fic is so popular, and if I knew what it was I'd be able to appreciate it better. Does anyone have thoughts? Have you written or do you love reading this genre? What am I missing in my analysis?

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-15 08:10 am (UTC)
rebcake: Giles reads distasteful fanfic volume (btvs giles reads fanfic)
From: [personal profile] rebcake
I've read quite a bit of amnesia fic, but I don't think any of it has met the criteria you mention of A stalking an unreceptive B who is happy with hir life. Okay, maybe one.

My fic reading is pretty much Buffyverse-centric, so I don't know about other fandoms, but in Spikeworld (and he does seem to get it the most), it generally runs from the hilarious (S6 Spike gets amnesia and thinks he's secretly dating Xander instead of Buffy! Randy & Joan have adventures!) to the sublime (shanshued!Spike doesn't remember his vampire days, but he's still very Spike which means he's very into Buffy! shanshued!Spike doesn't remember ANYTHING and tries to piece it together, with and without help from the people that he meets!) I'm not sure I like the shanshued!Spike turns back into William trope, though. Too much power imbalance.

Sometimes it's happy/romantic, sometimes it's darkest dark. I think these are a bit like another big fic trope — traveling back in time to "fix" things. Sometimes it works better than others, depending on who's doing the telling. It's a reset for one side, a chance for a do-over, to try again without making the same mistakes. Personally, I'm sort of a fan of the variation on this where things go wrong anyway, though I've had some fun with them going right, as well.

In the real world though (and I've actually had a brief amnesia experience myself) it seems unlikely that an amnesia victim would not be curious about their past. For the most part, I'd think they'd be willing to explore that with people who claim some prior knowledge.

I haven't written any amnesia fic, but I might feel a Randy & Joan one coming on...

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-16 06:56 am (UTC)
rebcake: Spike with "kiss the librarian" mug (btvs spike kiss the librarian)
From: [personal profile] rebcake
Yep, Slaymesoftly mentioned your post, which is how I came to realize that you weren't on my reading list by some oversight.

Yeah, I was totally in awe of the Dollhouse look at identity through a dozen facets. What am I today? Perfect date, mother, bride, daughter, student, ninja, Senator? All of those? None? In a way, it's what all creative people (actors and writers particularly) strive to be and understand. A truly integrated person is rare, I think, so what happens when part of your "self" goes away?

Anyway, I think you should write the amnesia fic you want to read. I'd want to read it too!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-16 11:13 am (UTC)
moscow_watcher: (Default)
From: [personal profile] moscow_watcher
I might feel a Randy & Joan one coming on...

*licks lips* :)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-16 03:31 am (UTC)
rahirah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rahirah
(Disclaimer: have written 1.5 amnesia stories, which amounts to less than 1% of my lifetime fictional output.)

Characters are the products of their histories and if you take away the memories of those histories, how are they the same people?

EXACTLY. How are they the same people? How are they not? What is innate in them, and what is a result of their experiences? What does it mean to be you - how much can be taken away before you're not you any longer - and if you're not you, who are you? Did 'you' ever exist in the first place? If you forget something, but everyone else remembers it, how does that affect their relationships with you? Do they even have a relationship with you? Does forgetting your past truly erase it?

Amnesia fics are, at bottom, about answering the question "Who am I?" And yes, sure, like any other plot device, it can be used in trite, cheesy ways by less than thoughtful writers. And maybe it doesn't ping for you even when used well. But judging a genre by the trite, cheesy examples (and Sturgeon's Law; ninety percent of ANY genre is going to be trite and cheesy) isn't very useful.

Edited Date: 2011-11-16 03:31 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-16 07:32 am (UTC)
rahirah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rahirah
Not offended! If a particular trope doesn't resonate for you, it doesn't, and there's nothing wrong with that. Though if it doesn't, I'm doubtful that people explaining why they like it would make any difference in how you feel about it. People have explained Alien Sex Pollen to me a million times, and I'm still DO NOT WANT. *g*

I think the thing is, people who want to write a romance want to, well, write a romance. Which usually means that the couple will get a happily ever after, regardless of the plot device used to accomplish that. I'm not particularly interested in writing reunite-the-couple scenarios myself, mainly because I write in a single continuity, and the couple doesn't need reuniting. (Plus I can't really use any plot device more than once, or people will get bored.) For me, when I did use amnesia, it was primarily as a method of examining the extent to which certain character traits were innate in the affected character, and to what extent they were learned. How the memory loss affected the character's existing relationship with their significant other was definitely a subplot, but it wasn't the main point of the story.

(If you want a story about a couple being torn apart, though, I can highly recommend [livejournal.com profile] greenmaia's "The Glory And The Dream." It's not amnesia, but it's another common fannish trope handled with brutal, heartbreaking realism.)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-16 07:05 am (UTC)
rebcake: Spike & Buffy: significant glance animation (btvs spuffy_alone_together)
From: [personal profile] rebcake
Well, I really liked your matched set of amnesia fics, which only ended happily because the memory loss was temporary — at least in Buffy's case. Spike kind of figured out a generally acceptable approach to life even before he was restored, but he always claimed that he followed his blood rather than his brain, anyhow. ;-) Now I want to reread.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-16 07:34 am (UTC)
rahirah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rahirah
He's still pissed off that he never got to eat those jaywalkers. *g*

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-16 11:12 am (UTC)
moscow_watcher: (Spuffy)
From: [personal profile] moscow_watcher
Maybe I was lucky, but I read several very good amnesia fics that cleverly explored characters' identity. I even wrote one, Who Are You, Faith Lehane? and had a lot of fun with it.

May I rec you a couple of amnesia fics I thoroughly enjoyed?

Amnesia! Spike by Mahaliem

Tabula Rasa Ad Aeternum by Kallysten and Kantayra

Memories Without Words by Kantayra

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-17 08:29 pm (UTC)
rebcake: Giles reads distasteful fanfic volume (btvs giles reads fanfic)
From: [personal profile] rebcake
Well, if people are giving out recs, I've got a few!

Shanshu!Amnesiac Spike:

No Mistakes by treacle_antlers — http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1412347/1/No_Mistakes
Forget and Smile by Miss Murchison — http://home.mchsi.com/~missmurchison/Forget_and_Smile_1.html (also its short prologue, Sweet Lethe, linked from the main story)
Fool's Paradise by kats_meow — http://kats-meow.livejournal.com/47960.html (darkish one-shot)

Barbverse Matched Set:

Deja Voodoo (Buffy's memory loss) — http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/347657.html
The Hero of the Piece (Spike's memory loss) — http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/377147.html

Most recent Randy & Joan:

Dear Randy by annapurna_2 — http://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/330605.html
(I don't think that I've ever read a bad Randy & Joan, although the dual amnesia sort of precludes the sort of deep diving you're looking for.)

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